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The Carriage Commentator

The British Team and supporters, including trainers Roger Campbell & Sara Howe, and Chef d'Equipe Jo Alvis

YOUNG DRIVERS

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FEI Driving European Youth Championship, Kisbér-Ászár, Hungary - 16-21 August 2022

The British junior team drove brilliantly to finish in 5th place, with individual wins in the marathon and cones for team members. We hear from Amy & Phoebe Matthews, and Chef d'Equipe, Jo Alvis. Thank you to Amy Mundell Photography for the images - September 2022

AMY MATTHEWS DRIVING SPUD

After a three day trip to Hungary, including a rest day, we arrived at the showground on the Monday. The ponies’ stables were already prepared thanks to Jo, Sara, Tony and Alex when we got there. So, we only needed to decorate them with a lot of bunting! The rest of the day involved setting up the camp and a bit of light exercise for the ponies.

On Tuesday, we worked them in the arenas in our allotted times with our trainers. The rest of the day was spent keeping out of the extreme heat and preparing for Nations Night. The trot up went very smoothly on Wednesday without any horses being spun from any nation.

Thursday was spent obstacle walking whilst waiting for my dressage on Friday, which I was pleased with, even with a couple uncharacteristic breaks in our extensions. We achieved a score of 57 which was an improvement of last year, and although in 19th place, I was only 9 points off third place.

Normally the marathon is our strongest phase but unfortunately the weather was against us. It rained all night and through the early morning so by the time we hit the course the ground was drying out a bit which made it incredibly hard work for Spud and disappointingly didn’t make it up the leader board.

However, we redeemed ourselves on cones day with a win so we attended the prize giving on foot and received a trophy which pulled us up to 17th place overall.

PHOEBE MATTHEWS DRIVING WOODY

We had a brilliant week out in Kisbér-Ászár, Hungary at the Junior Europeans!

It was a very long journey to get there.  We set off on the Friday before and on the first night we stopped in Aachen.  We had a few problems like setting fire extinguisher off in the lorry but we kept going. On the second day we stopped at Rieterbund Wels in Austria for a couple days to give the drivers and ponies a rest. It was a beautiful dressage yard and I wish we could have stayed there for the week!

On Monday we made our way to the show ground to set up for the week ahead of us. Then on Tuesday we had allocated arena slots with the team trainers Roger Campbell and Sara Howe – luckily my slot was before the extreme heat of the day.  We spent the rest of the day preparing for Nations Night, which as always was lots of fun, and it was great to meet up with old friends again.

Wednesday greeted us quickly and before we knew it, it was trot up day, ponies were fed at 6:00, walked by 7:00 and plaited ready in time for their first inspection by the judges and vet.  We patiently waited for the dressage draw so then we could move onto opening ceremony.

Before the teams entered the arena, there was a fantastic performance put on by the Hungarian whip crackers and dressage and driving stars.  The opening ceremony of course provided lots of photo opportunities to show off our new team gear which was generously supplied by Strömsholm Farriery Equipment & Supplies, and we finished the day in a positive mood ready to embrace the competition.

Then came Thursday, dressage day, and we were one of the last ones in the class so me and Woody had all morning to prepare for our turn in the ring.  Woody knew what his job was and didn’t put a foot wrong in our test.  Our dressage score ended up being 49.92 which put us in 7th and I was super proud of him as it was a massive step up from last year’s score.

On Friday we had a day off as it was second day of dressage.  We used our time to walk the obstacles before the heat and then that evening the rain came. It cooled the temperature a lot but made the ground extremely slippery for the marathon.

Marathon day came quickly, and before we knew it we were ready to head off.  The rain made the ground super slippery and even when we were trotting large circles in the controlled warm up we were sliding.  When we did the practice obstacle I became a bit worried as it was super muddy and this was what the marathon was going to be like.

Soon enough we were in the first obstacle, sliding everywhere, but we managed to make it out safety.  Our only problem came in the last obstacle when we slid into a concrete post bending my wheel and almost throwing my back stepper Clare Campbell off the back! We came back safe enough and finished in 4th position, but knew we wouldn’t be able to use my carriage for cones day. We figured for the cones that I could use my sister’s carriage seeing as she had the exact same carriage as me, so there wouldn’t be much of a difference for me and Woody.

We had a good cones round but had one unfortunate ball which kept me in 4th place, 0.5 away from a bronze medal! Although I was being so close to bronze, I am so proud of everything we achieved out in Hungary.  We had lots of fun and improved on our score from last year. 

Thank you to everyone who made it possible to make our journey to Hungary – my dad David, my mum Verity, sister Amy, uncle Geoff, cousin Oliver, our friends Clare Campbell and Amy Mundell, who groomed and back stepped for me and Amy. Also, a massive thank you to team trainers Roger Campbell and Sara Howe who were walking obstacles early in the morning and giving us all 100% of their attention.  Thank you also to my grandparents at home who supported through the phone and took care of the animals at home. And a big thank you to Jo Alvis the Chef d’Equipe (for the first time) – all your support and help was amazing and was greatly appreciated.

The British Team

JO ALVIS – CHEF D’EQUIPE

We were able to take a team of six; four must have competed abroad previously and two can be new to the international circuit. So our team was Megan Wheeldon (U25), Amelia Waddicor (U25), Amy Matthews (J P1), Harvey Clegram Brown (J P2), Phoebe Matthews (CH) and Poppy Clegram Brown (CH).

Kisbér-Ászár in Hungary is a lovely venue with a beautiful dressage arena, level training areas, nicely built obstacles, airy stables and a spacious camp overlooking the training areas. 

The support team of myself, Emily Viller (assistant Chef), Roger Campbell and Sara Howe (trainers) and Tony Collins (team vet), together with the grooms and parents, have a wealth of experience between us which resulted in a relatively smooth week. 

Many thanks to Cath Brockie for her generous donation enabling most of the costs to be covered.

I’m incredibly proud of what everyone achieved during the week.  There were some great results but some personal firsts for many as well. Planning has already started for the 2024 championships in Sweden. 

Some who were unable to join us this year (due to a variety of reasons) are busy training to ensure their place in 2024. 

The future for BYD is bright.